Franklin Graham, Religion & Marriage Law
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, January 29, 2016 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Have you heard the good news? Billy Graham’s son Franklin began his Decision America Tour in Des Moines, Iowa on January 5th. His sixth stop is planned for Atlanta, where the program of Christian music, prayer for the nation and an evangelistic message is free-of-charge and open to the public, at Liberty Plaza, directly behind the State Capitol, at noon Wednesday, February 10th. So, come, bring your friends, and wear your most comfortable walking shoes (regardless of how they look.)
Meanwhile, please work on Representative Kevin Tanner’s two new religious liberty bills introduced January 14th. H.B. 756 is okay. It affirms the right of businesses to provide services and products without compromising their religious beliefs. Call Judiciary Chairman Willard at 404 656-5125 and ask him to pass H.B. 756 out of committee.
But Section 1 of H.B. 757 is not okay. In the introductory paragraph of Section 1, H.B. 757 repeals Georgia marriage law in Code Section 19-3-3.1 that (a) defines marriage as between a man and a woman, (b) prohibits same-sex marriage in Georgia, and (c) prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions performed elsewhere. Then, it replaces Georgia’s current marriage law with the following:
“No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination, when acting in his or her official religious capacity, shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion under the Constitution of this state or of the United States.”However, H.B.757 does not mention which marriages people who are not ministers or clerics or religious practitioners would be required to perform. Therefore, judges, justices of the peace, and other officials could be required to solemnize marriages that contradict their religious beliefs. Meaning, such officials could NOT refuse to perform marriages of any kind.
So, if H.B. 757 passes as introduced, Georgia law would not define marriage, although the Constitution of the State of Georgia Article I, Section IV, Paragraph I, says: “This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state,” and further states that such unions performed elsewhere will have no effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding in this state.
Call House Judiciary Chairman Willard at 404 656-5125 and ask him to delete Section 1, lines 11-19 from H.B. 757 or kill the entire bill. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.